I'm a freak about tools and symmetries. I suffer from chronic achronic dysfunction. Usually displaced a few years into the future? What is now or then? Probably on the spectrum, too, but why know where? I'd actually prefer to discover I am less right because that's where the biggest learning opportunities are, but at the same time deep learning becomes more difficult with age. Latest recent self modifications? Homo sapiens' mobile larynx and DNA as recipe book, not blueprint.

Wiki Contributions


No, what you are saying is NOT related to what I am advocating. Even worse, I am having serious trouble trying to reconstruct a logical chain whereby you could have gotten there based on what I was trying to say. I know I write badly, but still...

Your departure point seems to be that government-mandated insurance is bad, but even there I am not convinced my examples were inappropriate. Rather I feel as though you are flying off in a completely different direction.

So let me try to take it from the top again. First of all, my basic premise is simply that insurance is a "normal mechanism" for responding to risk. 

Now there are many kinds of risks and many kinds of insurance. Most insurance policies are based on predicting the future. I think you want to limit the examples to purely voluntary insurance, which doesn't bother me, but the key to selling voluntary insurance is to convince the customer that the probability of the adverse event is high enough that some money should be diverted from present expenses to protect against that event. As a company would see things, that basically means deciding whether to spend less on maintaining and expanding the current business operations so as to protect future business operations. (And yes, I will even acknowledge that the government will naturally be pressured into regulating the insurance industry for several reasons. The most important one is that insurance companies have perverse incentives to exaggerate or even lie about the risks in order to sell more insurance.)

However Covid-19 is an example of an unexpected and essentially non-insurable disaster. Even worse, it affects almost every company more or less adversely. Such disasters create overwhelming pressures for governments to respond to protect the lives and welfare of their citizens. My suggestion is not that we normalize disasters, but we try to normalize the responses with TIDI (Time-Inverted Disaster Insurance) to reflect cases where the government has been forced to act as insurer of the last resort.

The situation of TIDI is fundamentally different from regular insurance, but in some ways advantageous. Looking at the damages after the fact, we can actually get a clear handle on how much economic damage has taken place. From that perspective, the insurance companies are using TIDI to help total up the damages and apportion the economic responses according to the actual damages suffered.

The main "trick" in TIDI is that the premiums would be paid after the fact, after we've seen how bad the disaster was. And from that perspective, the main problem is making sure the government as customer pays the premiums within a reasonable time frame. That may be the fatal flaw, however. Governments are notoriously bad about sticking to their payment schedules.

Maybe you think I'm trying to defend the notion of "too big to fail"? If so, then no. Rather I actually think that one of the most legitimate responsibilities of government is to prevent corporations from becoming too big. Every company should be free to go bankrupt at any time, but without taking the rest of the economy down with it. But yes, the entire economic system as a whole does need to be protected from collapse, and that's another legitimate responsibility of government.

Returning to the specific case of Covid-19, I think mixing up the costs of the damages with the costs of the medical responses has made the situation much worse. An especially noteworthy bad example in Japan was a series of GoTo campaigns that were supposed to help businesses, but which actually wound up helping the coronavirus more.

Is the influence of money pervasive, even on LessWrong?

Okay and you're welcome, though I wish I had understood that part of the discussion more clearly. Can I blame it on the ambiguity of second-person references where many people are involved? (An advantage of the Japanese language in minimizing pronoun usage?)

Is the influence of money pervasive, even on LessWrong?

Is your [Dogon's] reference to "your model" a reference to 'my [shanen's] preferred financial model' (obliquely referenced in the original question) or a reference to Vladimir_Nesov's comment?

In the first case, my "preferred financial model" would involve cost recovery for services shared. An interesting example came up earlier in this discussion in relation to recognizing consistency in comments. One solution approach could involve sentiment analysis. In brief, if you change your sentiment back and forth as regards some topic, then that would indicate negative "consistency", whereas if your sentiment towards the same topic is unchanged, then it indicates positive consistency. (If your sentiment changes rarely, then it indicates learning?) So in the context of my preferred (or fantasy) financial model, the question becomes "Are enough people willing to pay for that feature?"

Now things get more complicated and interesting in this case, because there are several ways to implement the feature in question. My hypothesis is that the solution would use a deep neural network trained to recognize sentiments. The tricky part is whether we yet know how to create such a neural network that can take a specific topic as an input. As far as I know, right now such a neural network needs to be trained for a specific domain, and the domain has to be narrowly defined. But for the sake of linking it to my financial model, I'm going to risk extending the hypothesis that way.

Now we get to an interesting branch point in the implementation of this feature for measuring consistency. Where do we do the calculations? As my financial model works, it would depend on which approach the users of the feature wanted to donate money for. I'm going to split it into three projects that could be funded:

  1. Developing the deep neural network to analyze sentiments towards input topics. This is basically a prerequisite project and unless enough people are willing to fund this project the feature is DOA.
  2. Analyzing the data with the neural network on the LW (LessWrong) side. In this version of consistency measurement there would be a lot of calculation on the LW side testing sentiments against topics, so there would be both a development project and a significant ongoing cost project. Both parts of this double project would need sufficient donor support to use this approach.
  3. Analyzing the data with the neural network on the users' side. In this version of consistency measurement, the tedious calculations could be removed from LW's servers. The trained neural network would be downloaded and each person would calculate (and optionally share) the consistency metric using the data of that person's own comments. The cost of the development project should be similar, but there wouldn't need to be donors for a major ongoing cost project. (I would actually favor this version and be more likely to donate money for this version due to privacy considerations.)

(If there are enough donors, then both 2 and 3 could be supported. However, deciding which one to implement first could be determined by which project proposal attracts enough donors first.)

In the second case, I'm afraid I don't understand what part of Vladimir_Nesov's comment was about a "model". And you weren't talking to me, anyway. And I should also apologize for my longish and misdirected response?

Well, judging by the negative karma it has given me, it seems clear that there is some "problem with the question" as LessWrong voters see things. Good thing that I don't much care about karma, eh? 

However, mostly I take it as evidence against the one-dimensional approach to measuring karma. Rather than take it as evidence that LessWrong itself should have lower karma, I see it as evidence that the shallow and close-minded Reddit approach of thumbs up or down is flawed. Even though the code has been rewritten, I think LessWrong might be "fighting the last war" on that front. Now back to the actual issue at hand...

Is pandemic insurance a good idea?

To address the substance of your [ChristianKI's] comment [But did you also give me a thumb down?], we will always be in a position of "fighting the last war" after any surprise attack. That's actually why I decided that Question (0) was the best one to focus on, since that generalization is (hopefully) applying a lesson learned from Covid-19 to develop a good policy for businesses going forward. (I also considered taking the approach that the pandemic was not a surprise, per John Oliver's main story on the latest episode of Last Week Tonight. He included some historical background and I agree that we should not have been so surprised by the attack of Covid-19. (I even believe that we are only a couple of unlucky mutations away from being back to square one in the "last war" against Covid-19.)

So let me expand the topic into two "concrete models" of insurance, no-fault auto insurance and health insurance.

In the case of no-fault auto insurance, we basically take the position that there are going to be some automobile accidents that cause significant damages. We could spend a lot of time haggling about who is at fault and how much they should pay, but (at least in America) it was decided to simplify the situation by requiring all car owners to have liability insurance for their cars. Personal example time: I was involved in a car accident. No question but that it was the other driver's fault. I even knew that I could sue him and the average settlement for such cases was twice the value of his insurance coverage. Was I a fool for accepting the insurance company's offer of his full covered value? Maybe I was a fool, but I didn't see any reason to damage his life for more money. (Plus I believed that the accident was at least partly his wife's fault, so that suing him would have put stress on their marriage.)

I started with the auto insurance because that's a more conventional case. Most of the people who buy the insurance don't suffer the damages and the claims are paid from the premiums of the 'lucky' people who have no accidents. However medical insurance is different because sooner or later everyone is going to have major medical costs. But (again limited to America) the solution has been based on private insurance. There are two tricks involved in this version of the solution. One is the "sooner or later" part which justifies making young people pay sooner for the medical costs they will incur later. The other is the variable costs, especially at the end. I am not endorsing this position (and have major reservations about medical insurance in general), but some people die much more cheaply than other people do. End of life care can be quite expensive but many people are willing to be "reasonable" about it, at least when they are in good health and preparing a Living Will for their future self in terminal condition. (And now you see where the "death panels" come from?)

Prediction time: We will have new diseases and new pandemics in the future. I actually think that Covid-19 was an unlucky zoonotic accident, but the next accident could be much worse. Or the next pandemic might not be an accident. Maybe Betteridge was wrong and the answer to this headline question should have been "Yes"?

One more thing. Might even be related to the mysterious karma thing. Maybe the negative karma was voted in fear of politics? However, I would say that I want to avoid political responses to medical crises and Covid-19 is a MEDICAL crisis that has also triggered a secondary economic crisis. My focus was on dividing the economic crisis away from the medical crisis, where insurance is the "normal" solution to deal with economic crises. However Covid-19 could be (and probably has been) linked to politics via the money.

Meta again...

Now should I say "oops" about my karma? No, thank you. I would be willing to discuss that with the people who felt so strongly (and negatively) about the topic. Or maybe they just felt slightly negative and LessWrong encourages expressing such negative feelings? Or maybe I am merely slightly curious in whether I should care about the opinions of the (to-me-anonymous) people who felt the question deserved a negative rating?

Is there something substantively wrong with the topic? Four thumbs down (currently) say "Bad", but I say "Boo" (and not as in "boo hoo"). I think it would be nice if they had been encouraged (or even required) to offer a few words about why they dislike the question so much. (How about giving less weight to negative karma if it is not actually justified with an explanation? Or even let downvoters pick from a menu of reasons to give full weight to their thumbs?)

Notes on Amiability

It's hard to change or improve something without measuring it. I think you are describing a fairly complicated concept, but it might be possible to break it down into dimensions that are easier to assess. For example, if some of the assessments are related to specific comments or replies [our primary "actions" within LessWrong], then we could see what we are doing that affects various aspects of our "amiability".

This demonstration of "Personality Insights" might help illustrate what I'm talking about. If you want to test it, I recommend clicking on the "Body of Text" tab and pasting in some of your writing. Then click on the "Analyze" button to get a display for some of the primary dimensions. If you then click on the "Sunburst visualization" link at the bottom, you'll see more dimensions and how they are grouped. I think your notion of "amiability" may be within the cluster of "Agreeableness" dimensions.

Another way to think of it is related to the profiles that Facebook and the google have compiled for each of us. My understanding (from oldish reports) is that they are dealing with hundreds of dimensions. I would actually like to see my own profile and the data that created it. I might even disagree with some of the evaluations, but right now those evaluations are being used (and abused) without my knowledge.

Notes on Amiability

Is this another karma-related topic? Your tags suggest otherwise, but I would like to see some of these dimensions as part of the karma metric, both for myself and for other people. Most of the examples you cite seem to be natural binary dimensions, but not fully orthogonal. Not sure what I should say here, but I'll link to my longest comment on Less wrong on the topic of enhanced karma. As you are approaching the topic, such an approach would help me recognize "amiable" people and understand what makes them amiable. I doubt that becoming more amiable is one of my goals, but at least I could reflect on why not. Or perhaps most importantly I could look for the dimensions that reflect sincere amiability to filter against the fake amiability of the "charming sociopaths" you mentioned.

Is the influence of money pervasive, even on LessWrong?

I feel like this branch of the discussion might be related to Dunbar's Number? Either for total members or for active participants. Is there any data for number of participants over time and system versions?

However I also feel like Dunbar's Number is probably different for different people. Social hubs have large numbers of personal friends, whereas I feel overwhelmed by any group of 150. My personal Dunbar's Number might be around 15?

The Great Karma Reckoning

This topic of karma in general interests me, per my reaction to the karma project from 2019. However my question in response to this "site meta" item is: "Is there a karma explorer?" One side would be a way to see the basis of my own karma, but I would also like a way to understand the basis of the karma of other users. For example, I see that the author habryka has over 13,000 points of karma here and 242 points of karma somewhere else, but what does that actually mean? Does any of that karma represent reasons I should read comments from habryka with greater attention? (Right now it feels like there are a lot of magic numbers involved in karma calculations?)

More fuzzy reaction, but I feel like whatever forms the basis of karma, it should age over time. Recent contributions to karma should matter more than old ones.

Is the influence of money pervasive, even on LessWrong?

Thanks for the lead to the "Site Meta" tag. I have that one open in another tab and will explore it next. However my general response to your reply is that part of the problem is that I would like to see different kinds of "tracking summaries" depending on what kinds of things I am trying to understand at a particular time.

You introduced a new example with your mention of "meetup announcements". If you are trying to track your activity on LW in terms of such meetings, then you want to see things from that perspective.

What I have done in today's experiment is to open all the "recent" notifications in tabs because it is not clear which ones are actually new... It would be helpful if the notifications pulldown list also showed the notification times (though the mouseover trick for date expansion also works for the relative dates on the floating summary that appears to the left of the notification when you hover over it). Overall I'm still having a difficult time grasping the status of this question.

Is the influence of money pervasive, even on LessWrong?

Accuracy is relatively easy to assess. If you think someone is saying something that is false and you are reacting to the comment on that basis, then you should be able to cite appropriate evidence to that effect. (But the other person should be able to object to your evidence as part of a 'proper' MEPR system.) 

I actually think most dimensions of the reputation system should be normalized around zero, so that if people tend to give more negative reactions, then the system should be adjusted to make it more difficult to give a negative reaction, such as saying a comment is inaccurate. (However I also think that should be weighted by the MEPR of the person making the rating. If someone has a established a long track record of catching inaccuracies, then the likelihood is higher for that person.)

I agree that consistency is much trickier. Even in the case where I know the person has changed his mind on a topic, I would not regard it as inconsistent if there was good reason for that change. I think I might like computer support for something like that. How about a triggered search? "Show me this person's comments about <target keyword>" and I could then look over the results to see if they are unchanged, evolving over time, or jumping back and forth. 

But actually that is something I would like to apply to my own comments over time. I think I am fairly consistent, but perhaps I am deluding myself?

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